I could rate Sao Paolo’s race as hardest for me through the whole season, and from psychological point of view as well. On wet track you have to be as precise as possible every second, as one mistake could ruin all your and team’s efforts. That’s why Brazilian GP brought additional stress to any driver.
We knew in advance about changeable weather, so preferred not to choose all-dry or all-wet setup for the race and worked during week-end on normal schedule. On Sunday morning I looked out the window at my hotel’s room and saw bright sun and no clouds in the sky. I even thought that forecast about rain wouldn’t come true – but one hour before the start it darkened all around.
I think we found some very good clutch setup with my engineer, so I overtook a number of cars at first meters – Romain Grosjean, somebody else – and dived to the inside line before Turn 1. I knew it gave me a chance to create a gap from main competitors, Heikki and Marussia drivers. The more cars between us – the better. Of course, faster cars ultimately went ahead, but it took some time and then I could manage my race.
While it was dry, tyres worked well. Than it began to drizzle, grip started to drop and car handling got worse and worse. Heikki and then Timo Glock overtook me, but later they fought each other so hard at Turn 1, that I passed them both. In fact, almost every lap we changed positions. It was intense situation as tyres were almost gone, car slid a lot, was unstable under braking…
When I touched white line on corner entrance, it went sideways and spun immediately. Strangely, but this moment turned out to be critical for my race: I went on radio and saw to the team, that urgently needs fresh set of tyres. We discussed this till final corner and ultimately decided to switch to intermediates, which was just in time. It was right call and we regained almost all time lost before.
At final stint it was very important for me to overtake Charles Pic. I found the right moment when Fernando Alonso lapped us. I let him through at Turn 1 with almost no loss, then made speed in a tow, used KERS and DRS and easily got ahead of Charles on a straight. It was good moment, although I have no doubts I’d overtook him anyway, maybe a bit later.
Of course, when raced finished with P11 and I returned to garages after talking with media, everyone in the team was very delighted, from mechanics to bosses.
To sum up, I’m happy with how season went on. On previous years I sometimes felt I’ve done something not completely right and need to correct this or that. In 2012 there were significantly less mistakes. In fact, I didn’t do any serious one – it looks like experience began to pay off. I also look at some things at slightly different angle now.
Of course, I couldn’t say the year was free from difficulties. After seasons with Lotus/Renault I came to the team with less recourses and experience. We learnt together how to deal with KERS, I told our engineers everything I knew about it. At the second half of the year the main direction was quite clear for us and we started to get predictable results.
Now the season is over and I very grateful to Caterham F1 Team and all its members. It was an interesting year – let’s see what the future will bring us.